Teens on way to prom help rescue highway crash victims

A group of prom-bound Florida teens and their limo driver came to the aid of seven people trapped in a van that crashed and flipped on its side on an interstate.

It was a prom night to remember for a group of high-school students who sprang into action to help rescue victims after a van crashed on a Florida highway.

Prom teens stop to help crash victims

Prom teens stop to help crash victims
Duration: 1:35 Views: 27k MSN News/Newsy

The 20 students from Western High in Davie, Fla., dressed in tuxedos and gowns, were in a Cadillac Escalade stretch limousine traveling on eastbound Interstate 595 in Davie on Saturday night when a van in front of them started swerving wildly.

The van driver was trying to avoid traffic braking in front of her, Sgt. Mark G. Wysocky of the Florida Highway Patrol told MSN News. "She veered to the left and struck the concrete barrier wall and veered back to the right and the vehicle overturned on its side," Wysocky said.

The limo screeched to a halt, narrowly missing the overturned van, said Danny Izzi, president of Avanti Limousines and Airport Transportation.

"I almost hit them," Izzi told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. "I had to slam on my brakes, but with 20 kids in there it's really [difficult] to put the brakes on."

Izzi and the teens rushed to help the five adults and two children trapped in the van.

"We were trying to help because we didn't know what happened, how they flipped, how many people were in there," 17-year-old sophomore Krista Pulcini told the Sun-Sentinel.

"It was a pretty traumatizing event, seeing all those people hurt and cut up and stuff," Frank Tucker, 17, told the newspaper. "When you see the accident it's pretty intense, kind of like a movie scene."

Izzi said he kicked in the back door of the van. One student climbed on top, forced the sliding door open and helped free some of the passengers.


Peter Kim, a high school senior, told WSVN-TV he opened the trunk and saw a boy. "I grabbed him and I set him down and told him everything was going to be all right."

Kim said he pulled groceries out of the van to try to reach a woman and a 2-year-old. "She was lying there, and it got to me a little bit because she wasn't moving at all, and I saw her baby girl just lying there, and I went to reach for her, and that's when she turned around and said, 'Take my baby, take my baby. Take her, save her,'" Kim said, according to WSVN.

Firefighters and paramedics arrived within minutes, and the seven occupants of the van were taken to area hospitals. No one was ejected or seriously hurt, Wysocky said.

The driver, Karen Exalien 28, was cited for failure to use due care and for a child-restraint violation because the 2-year-old was not in a car seat, the patrol said.

The seniors continued on to the prom at a hotel in Fort Lauderdale.

"I went to the prom and a lot of girls were helping me get the blood out of my dress, so it was good," Pulcini told the Sun-Sentinel.

Wolf told WSVN: "Once we knew they were OK and we had all made it, we were just happy to know we were all alive, and we enjoyed that night."

More from MSN

Driver taking teens to prom charged with DUI

The high cost of the high school prom

High school proms: Then and now

Friends mourn 5 Calif. nurses killed in limo fire